A software contractor for the CIA lost her job last week when she blogged one post too many. The Washington Post's Dana Priest reported on Friday that Christine Axsmith, who wrote a popular blog for people top-secret security clearances, criticized the US policy on torture and promptly found herself on the street.
Writing as Covert Communications, CC for short, and posting on Intelink, the intel world's classified intranet, she was a typical general blogger in a rarified domain. She wrote about everything from the economy to terrorism to the food in the CIA cafeteria.
The day of the last post (July 13), Axsmith said, after reading a newspaper report that the CIA would join the rest of the U.S. government in according Geneva Conventions rights to prisoners, she posted her views on the subject.
It started, she said, something like this: "Waterboarding is Torture and Torture is Wrong."
And it continued, she added, with something like this: "CC had the sad occasion to read interrogation transcripts in an assignment that should not be made public. And, let's just say, European lives were not saved." (That was a jab at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to Europe late last year when she defended U.S. policy on secret detentions and interrogations.)
She thought it would be OK to post about it, since the official policy had changed. She was wrong. She thought she might be reprimanded or her blog would be deleted. She was wrong about that too.
After a humiliating interrogation in which her badge was taken and she was left in a freezing conference room that people used as a shortcut, she was fired.
Fired - and threatened with criminal prosecution - for opining that torture is wrong, at a time when that sentiment is official policy.
How's that for a chilling effect?